Longtime readers of this blog may recall that several months ago I wrote a negative review of a program called SpySweeper. Last night I got this e-mail message from a reader:
Ed…I saw your Feb 2004 review of Spy Sweeper and I’m the unsophisticated user you referred to, eg I “swept” everything an now I can’t log onto the internet and it takes forever to load Word, when it didn’t before I “swept” my computer.
On the advice of a friend, I tried several times to download AdAware, but when I unzipped it, it kept being saved as a .ref file that Windows could not open.
So, given that PCMagazine rated Spy Sweeper highly (keep in mind I was trying to use my infected computer and didn’t have time to research…I am at work now)…I installed and ran it last night.
It found a handful of adware and about 100 cookies….I knew a few of them were innocuous and eliminated them and then ran the sweep.
Well, after that, I can no long log onto the Internet with netzero at all!!!
Should I restore everything that was quarantined and hope I can at least access the internet?
Argh, I sympathize. Yes, if I were you I would restore what was quarantined and start over. It sounds like the .exe file for NetZero was mistakenly classified as spyware or adware and the overly aggressive SpySweeper software locked it up so you can’t access it.
Btw, the AdAware “ref” files are simply the reference files, which contain data used to scan for spyware. The scanning engine is a different download completely. Unfortunately, AdAware has paid versions, and their Web site tries to steer you to those paid versions by making the free version a bit difficult to find.
Spyware and so-called phishing attacks are an epidemic. Security software can help, but there are too many fake spyware fighters out there, some of which are actually infested with spyware themselves. Companies like WebRoot don’t help people when they release software that is too agressive. There’s no excuse for what happened to Carol–if the SpySweeper program had been properly tested, it would have never disabled her Internet access.